book review

Marketing Mishap Shadows A Cunning Story | Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Friday, December 14, 2018

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication Date: 5/16/17
Pages: 392
Source: purchased
The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath. So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace. The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.
Mariko is heading toward the Imperial Palace to wed her betrothed who she’s never met. On the way, her party is ambushed and leave her for dead. It becomes clear that they were sent to kill her and she vows to find out why. Mariko tracks down the Black Clan, the group that terrorizes the area in search of answers. Disguised as a man, she infiltrates their ranks and works to uncover their secrets. Renee Ahdieh brings her all in Flame in the Mist, such a gorgeously written story that will leave you wanting more.

  • The writing is absolutely superb! I cannot mention it enough. That's one of the main reasons why I fell head over heels for her last books, The Wrath and the Dawn and The Rose and the Dagger. Her writing flows easily and gorgeously. Not only does the writing help the book feel fast-paced but it immerses you right into the story. 
  • With non-stop action, immersion in a story is exhilarating. Was there an actual time that I could catch my breath? No, Flame in the Mist is such a high stakes adventure. At every turn—with Mariko disguised as a man—I thought she was going to be found out. It made me stay up reading late into the night. I needed to know what was going to happen. 

  • The way the book has been marketed is unfortunate. I've seen a lot of bloggers remark on this so going in, I was prepared what wouldn't be there. As in, the book is marketed as a Mulan retelling. And what we got is not really a Mulan retelling. Sure, we get an adventure about a woman disguised as a man but I don't think that fully makes it to Mulan retelling status. Besides the disguise, Flame in the Mist and Mulan have very little in common.  
  • I love a lot of things about Mariko. She's extremely brave and courageous. And the development she undergoes from being ambushed in the beginning to becoming such a fighter is definitely amazing to note. Yet, I couldn't really get behind her reasoning to infiltrate the Black Clan, her initial attackers. And without any outside help, no less. Her reasons were a bit unclear and when the Clan gave her openings to leave, she never took them. It just seemed borderline ridiculous and most of her decisions of staying earned several face-palms. Though, I must admit, she's certainly committed to her cause.

Flame in the Mist is initially plagued by a marketing mishap. However, I urge you to still give the book a try as Ahdieh’s beautiful writing style and cunning story makes the book superb.

Flame in the Mist (5/16/17): 4 stars
Smoke in the Sun (6/5/18): TBD

Tackling my TBR

Tackling My TBR: December 2018

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month. I was so inspired by booktuber’s, BooksandLala, Closet Unhaul series to tackle my own TBR in a similar method. I'm going to challenge myself to read books from my old hauls and if I can’t complete them within the month, I must unhaul them the next month. Also, any readathons or other challenges for the month will also be posted in this monthly post.

Last month, I made my way through my September 2010 book haul, totaling at 7 books. Overall, I read 5 of the 7 books. Right off, I unhauled Wither by Lauren DeStefano since the series didn’t sound like something I would enjoy anymore. Also, I decided to wait until I finish the House of Night series before jumping into The Fledgling Handbook 101. That left me with 5 books to tackle last month and I was able to finish all of them! I read the 9th book in the House of Night series, Destined by P.C. and Kristin Cast which felt more like a filler plot than anything else and, so far, my least favorite in the whole series. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl was such a disappointment—I wanted to love it but the world fell flat for me. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff was also disappointing. I just couldn’t get into it.

As for Defiance by Lili St. Crow, the book turned out to be such a surprise. I really enjoyed where the series is going and hope to finish the final book by the end of the year! Cloaked by Alex Flinn was such a cute read that mashed up different fairytales; it was a quick read.

Now for this month, I’m tackling my October 2010 book haul which only has 1 book on it. That’s very do-able so I may even add on my November 2010 book haul as well. However, since it is the last month of the year, I want to keep it open—it’s crunch time to get to all those books I wanted to get done this year.

Charlotte and Emily by Jude Morgan: It doesn't appear in the screenshot above since I've already started reading it. It's a fiction dramatization of the Bronte sisters' lives. So far, the pacing is a bit slow but I'm enjoying it.

Vixen by Jillian Larkin: I'm hoping for some Anna Godbersen vibes here. Vixen takes place during the roaring twenties, where secrets are always in danger of being spilled. I don't own the rest of the trilogy but if I love this one, we shall have to change that.

Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon: My brother recommended this one to me and I'm only now getting to it. The series follows Nick who is sucked into a paranormal realm of vampire slayers, demons, and zombies.

What are you planning to read this month?

kickin' it

Kickin' It: November 2018 Wrap Up

Friday, November 30, 2018

Kickin’ It is a feature at The Bucket List where I round-up the whole month in one post, bringing you reviews you may have missed, other awesome bookish things, and even what I’m currently obsessed with in other media besides books. November was a good month, overall. I reread a book which is so rare for me but having remembered nothing of the book, I loved it as if it was the first time! My job search continues into December, and I'm hoping for some good news soon. Thanksgiving was this month and getting the family together was so nice. Overall, I was able to read 13 books. Here's my recap:

Cloaked by Alex Flinn (3.5 stars): Back in high school, I always enjoyed Flinn's work. Her take on fairy tales is fun and imaginative. Cloaked is no exception; it was a fun, fast read!

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (4 stars): That cliffhanger will be the death of me! All the reveals and everything I learned in this one- I don't want this series to ever end!

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (4 stars): What a great conclusion! Blue and the gang were phenomenal. And all the reveals made me wish there was a next book so I could stay in the world a little bit more. I can’t believe it’s over.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (2 stars): When I first received this, the book was hyped to the max. I went into Beautiful Creatures and hoped to like it much more than I did. The world building was lacking so much. Having the male perspective who was non-magical in the lead role, it was such a missed opportunity to have some massive world building and some explanation. Instead, nothing, which just left me disappointed.

Because You Love to Hate Me edited by Ameriie (3.5 stars): This anthology was great! Popular booktubers give awesome authors writing prompts about villains. The outcome makes for some great stories (my favorite was about Death in a well and the Sherlock and Moriarty romance).

Destined by P.C. and Kristin Cast (3 stars): I was hoping to find some newfound love for this series. And I actually rated it lower than all the other 8 books in the series. If you ask me what this book is about, I really couldn’t tell you—if felt like a filler plot with blatant foreshadowing for the end of the novel.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell (5 stars): This turned out to be an unexpected holiday story. It was absolutely fantastic! I wouldn't say I have high expectations going into this one but after liking both Carry On and Fangirl from Rowell, I was excited and hesitant to read her adult book, Landline. It was raw and heartwarming with the amazing writing I've come to expect from Rowell.

Emma by Jane Austen (4 stars): I knew going in that Emma is rather selfish and obnoxious, though her character arc is structured very well. The matchmaking was super fun. But so far in my Jane Austen reads, nothing has topped Pride and Prejudice yet.

Just a French Guy Cooking by Alexis Gabriel Ainouz (4 stars): I'm obsessed with his YouTube channel and reading his cookbook is the perfect companion to his videos. There were definitely some amazing recipes I tabbed to try later.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (2 stars): This one used to be so hyped and I was always curious to find out why. Occasionally, you’ll hear readers now loving it so much. And I was happy to finally pick it up. But The Replacement was just not for me. It didn’t have much world building which could have made the plot tremendously better. There was a bit too much info dumping told via dialogue which was unfortunate. And I just couldn’t warm up to any of the characters. There just didn’t seem to be enough drawing me into the story.

Defiance by Lili St. Crow (4 stars): This is the fourth in a five book series. After giving book 2 and 3 only 3 stars, I went in expecting to give out another 3. However, I surprised myself. After I pushed past the language peeves (how every character uses the same words, making them all sound very similar in dialogue), I really enjoyed the plot. The action scenes were phenomenal; I was on the edge of my seat.

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard (5 stars): I had a stomach ache from all the stress this book gave me. It was truly superb; an epic conclusion. The ending was both final, yet open ended enough to make your own theories. Still reeling from all the awesome!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (5 stars): Reread! I should reread more often because it was as amazing as it was the first time around maybe even more so. It also helped that I remembered about 5% of this going into a second time so the refresher was needed.

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson | When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare (12/4/18): I haven’t started this series yet but as they’ve come out, I’ve bought each and every one of them. Having liked The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices series, I know I’m going to love this one!

Once A King by Erin Summerill (12/4/18): Isn’t this cover just gorgeous and when put with the rest of the series, the covers are absolutely breathtaking. This is another series I haven’t started yet but I’m confident these books will become favorites!

Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love by various authors (12/18/18): A collection of amazing YA authors answer letters from teens all over the world about the dark side of love.

I watched a few films this month and continued season 4 of Jane the Virgin. I just love that show so much! I saw Bohemian Rhapsody, which was such an amazing film. The cinematography was absolutely gorgeous. And Rami Malek deserves an Oscar, his acting was so fantastic! I'm obsessed with all things The Nutcracker so I was so happy to finally see the new movie. It was good; I think they could have given us more character development but the costumes were beautiful! And, of course, I saw Fantastic Beasts, The Crimes of Grindelwald. I preferred Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them than the sequel but it was still good. I don't think the plot moved as seamlessly as it should as a film but I adored all the fantastic beasts and am looking forward to the next one.

sing rami malek GIF by Regal Cinemas

How was your November? What books did you read? Did you watch any shows/movies?

book tag

A Whole Lot of Nope | The Nope Book Tag

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

It’s been quite a while since I did a tag. I found this over at Emma Reads Too Much and decided to try it out. The Nope Book Tag is actually a representation of my current mood as I’m slowing falling into a pit of reading slump: my current read is a whole lot of nope. Anyway, on to the Nope Book Tag where I get to discuss all those books that made me go “nope:”



A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas: I waited impatiently for this one to release. And after the pure perfection that was A Court of Mist and Fury, I expected a similar view on the third and final-ish book in the series. But, nope. What we got was repetitive and unnecessary. Some of the ending was rushed and I think it could have been so much better.



Zoey Redbird from the House of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast: I don’t particularly like Zoey. She was okay in the beginning. However, she quickly becomes a bit annoying. She strings around 3 and more boys, juggling at random who will be her boyfriend-for-a-minute next. She rarely develops or learns from her mistakes. And yes, she does drive me crazy. Mind you, there’s 12 books of her.



Reawakened series by Colleen Houck: A series that I finished that turned out to be a huge nope. I adored the first book. It was great: ancient Egyptian prince awakes every few centuries to save the world. Reawakened was awesome! Then the sequel which wasn’t as good but still was amazing. But the third and final book… everything was upside down and that ending was so disappointing.

Vampire Kisses series by Ellen Schreiber: A series I gave up on after the cover change. At the time, I was just over all the vampire books and the plot was getting a bit repetitive.



Mare and Maven from the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard: I saw this ship sailing a bit in the beginning of the series. But after all we’ve learned about Maven, I cannot support it. [I spout some spoilers from later on in the series here:] In King’s Cage, he treats her as a pet, keeps her in a cage, tied up, and starves Mare of her magic. Sure, he may love her in his way but it’s certainly not a healthy way.



City of AshesCity of Glass by Cassandra Clare: I am not sure when the “sibling” twist took place but I thought it was an incredibly poor move for the series. I know a lot of readers just flat out quit the series because of the twist. But seriously, if you ignore it, the books are great!



I will never not read a specific genre. However, some genres I tend to dislike: science fiction, dystopian, thrillers, and mysteries.



Hardcovers and paperbacks are my jam. You will never find me buying a mass market paperback (yuck!). And ebooks are not something I tend to buy anymore. It takes me double the time to read those than physical books. I enjoy audiobooks but I definitely avoid buying them at all costs since they are usually so expensive.



How about the girl who’s not like other girls? Ugh.



Caraval by Stephanie Garber: It has gorgeous editions that I would love on my shelf. Yet, no matter how many people hype it up I probably will never read this one. It just doesn’t sound like something I would enjoy.



A writing pet peeve? This doesn’t happen very often but when writers make their cast of characters all sound exactly the same. Everyone talks the same, I can’t tell anyone apart.



Maxon from The Selection series: I have such a soft spot for royals which is why The Selection series will remain my guilty pleasure forever. However, Maxon, our dear prince, barely gets enough screen time (or page time, in this sense) to actually get a true sense of him as a character. That’s a huge nope, considering there’s three books depicting his romances.



Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout: This book made me so mad! Saying a book shouldn’t have existed is such a harsh thing to say. Everybody’s voice should be heard. So, even though I have some negative feelings on this book… I’m sure other people thought differently on it.



Levana from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer: She’s terrifying, partly because she’s so unpredictable. And then there’s that little novella, Fairest, that actually makes you care for her. But I would definitely try to stay clear of her.



Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo: This isn’t a spoiler if I don’t mention who, right? It’s just—I read this book over a year ago and I’m still not over it. Why? There was no reason for it. Why!



Gretchen McNeil: Last year, I read Ten which was a retelling of And Then There Were None. But no where on the physical book of Ten does it source its inspiration. After that, I unhauled two of her books: Get Even and Get Dirty which sounded like catty girls getting revenge – something I wouldn’t like no matter the author. However, 3:59 remained on my shelf since it contained alternate universes. Yes, please, I’m always here for alternate universes. I recently read 3:59 and just nope. It turned out to be more of a high school drama than alternate universe adventure. So, McNeil’s books and I are parting ways.

What books have you read recently that made you go "nope"?

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Books I'm Thankful For This Year (2018)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Thanksgiving is this week and in between calling my family and making dinner plans, I've been thinking about what I'm thankful for this year. And, of course, I'm thankful for all the books I read but today, I picked out some amazing reads that really opened my eyes.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's topic is a Thanksgiving Freebie so I decided to do the same as I did last year but this time, I only focused on 2018 releases: Top 10 Books I'm Thankful For This Year.

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram: Thank you for such a meaningful and moving coming of age story. The family and friendship in this book is fantastic. The writing is both realistic and compelling.

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith: Thank you for a new perspective: YA needs more native voices! The siblings in Hearts Unbroken warmed my heart with To All the Boys I've Loved Before vibes. This book gives us a much needed voice with a wonderful message.

Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez: Thank you for such a great retelling of Tristan and Isolde. The writing is stunning and will simply blow you away. I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel which releases next year!

Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen: Thank you for empowering woman with this fantastic narrative. This book was one of the first books I read this year and it may have been one of the best!

Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch: Thank you for giving us a real representation of sibling rivalry. One of the best sibling duos I've read in such a long time! Also, thank you for the lovely backdrop of Ireland that made me want to rush off and travel there.

Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre: Thank you for taking me out of my comfort zone. Science fiction is not a genre I usually read but Honor Among Thieves quickly became a favorite. The unlikely friendship has me impatiently waiting for the sequel to release in 2019.

The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman: Thank you for such a heartwarming story. The format of this amazing novel is incredible: one perspective is told in verse, while the other continues in prose. The romance is raw and true, a narrative that is certainly needed today.

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson: Thank you for such a gorgeous, atmospheric story that captured my heart from the start. The writing is spectacular. The world building is flawless. Thank you for being one of the best spooky reads of my October books.

Now a Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy: Thank you for your message of acceptance which is both beautiful and raw. Thank you for the wonderfully thought-out family dynamic that you don't see often in YA.

Sadie by Courtney Summers: Thank you for giving us such an awesome structure-- half podcast, half prose. The audiobook is absolutely a gem. Thank you for tackling the difficult topics.

Which books are you thankful for?